Merni is a diverse, rural nation consisting of [TBD, but large-ish] people. The capital is Qersi, which is a major trading port located on the Qersi river. Other cities of influence include Kothes near the border with Vavax and Esra in the middle of the Mernian coastline.
Merni is a federation. At the national level it is ruled jointly by the Emperor and the Parliament, while in the provinces (currently 8 in number) a delegate (appointed by the emperor) and a governor (usually a noble lord, chosen as set out below) jointly govern. This ensures that both the emperor and local nobles have influence on both levels of government, but not over one entirely. Merni's governing document is the Kerveta, which sets out the basic government structure of the country.
The Emperor is the head of state, currently Velani IV. He is advised by the Imperial Council. The emperor has power over all military and foreign affairs, as well as over appointment of delegates, and is also responsible for tax collection. The emperor can also dissolve Parliament, but in return it can depose the emperor with complete agreement. The current emperor, Velani IV, has reigned for 18 years, and is generally popular, preferring not to be involved in parliamentary matters, as well as giving provinces freedom over their own affairs for the most part. The emperor serves for life (unless deposed or abdicated). New empeors are selected by the Electors of Merni, who serve for life and are elected by all people upon the death of an elector. This is the only full democracy at large scale, but electors serve no role in government other than selecting the emperor, and are not usually considered part of the government.
Parliament is composed of three distinct sets of members who all sit together:
appointed by nobles (20% of total)
elected by land-owners of each area to represent it (60%)
elected by municipalities, universities, trade associations, etc. (20%)
Parliament has the authority to set national taxes, fix the budget etc and also has power to make national regulations on various matters.
At the provincial level the delegate and governor are the joint heads of govermment. The delegate is appointed by the emperor. The governor is elected by the nobles and local representatives together three years. (See below) Provincial governments have as much or more power as the national government, including the power to levy taxes.
Local government consists of village assemblies in each village, elected democratically by all residents of a village and its surrounding rural areas. To elect the governor of a province, each assembly nominates one member as its local representative. Local government is not very powerful, but has power over small local issues.
Towns and cities have municipalities, which serve the functions of a provincial and local government, including levying municipal taxes. Although they are located in a province, the provincial government does not apply to them.
The justice system consists of three levels:
Magistrates, for civil and petty criminal offences, are appointed by the emperor and the provincial government for each small area. In rural areas they are usually well-educated normal residents using it as a part-time job, while in towns they may be qualified in law and working full-time.
Sessions courts, for severe criminal offences and appeals. They consist of professional judges who travel around a given province, holding courts at various towns for a few months at a time. The judges are selected by the emperor on Parliament's advice.
The Supreme Court in Qersi, which judges treason as well as appeals. Judges are selected by the emperor on Parliament's advice.
The Emperor hears appeals from people sentenced to death, and may pardon them or reduce their sentence.
People, Culture, Religion
The people live mostly in rural areas, although there are a few cities with sizeable populations. There is some disparity between the rich and the poor, with no large middle class, but even the more well-off do not live in excessive grandeur. The primary occupation in the rural areas is farming. All children go to school for at least two years, where they may learn the language and some other skills such as arithmetic as well as the history of the nation, but they are not always taught to read and write. Richer and urban children recieve more education.
There are significant cultural differences between the coastal plains of the south and the mountains of the north, despite most Mernians speaking the same basic language, Mernian (Kotresi). Most also follow the same religion, Ku'hina, which is a polytheistic religion. The religion has elaborate ceremonies performed with verses in ancient Kotresi, but also stresses charity and truth. There is also a small community of Eastern Orthodox Christians, especially near the coast.
The culture of Merni is ancient, with classical music and dance forms, plays, etc. Mernians are generally very proud of their culture and regard many foreigners as uncultured. Knowledge of chemistry (not alchemy), astronomy, architecture and the use of herbs for medicine is very well developed, as is the philosophy of law and morality, with many ancient and contemporary texts, and knowledge being passed on through universities.
The economy of Merni is primarily based on agriculture. Major crops grown in Merni include spices, rice and cotton. In the coastal areas, fishing is also prevalent, while in the mountainous north there is some extent of iron and coal mining. Mernian spices are famous all over the region.
Merni conducts most of its trade overland, with its traders reaching far and wide across the Labyrinth to sell things like spices and fine cloths, and buy other things from abroad to sell in Merni. Sea trade is not as major, however it is increasing quickly in popularity due to the favourable coastline and rivers.
Foreign and military policy
Merni's foreign policy is primarily non-interventionist. Although its government keeps close eyes on its bordering nations, it does not intend to interfere in their affairs unless absolutely necessary. However, where expansionism threatens the security of Merni, it will take whatever action necessary to curb it. Merni is not currently in any major alliance, but is open to mutually beneficial alliances with like-minded nations.
Merni's military is mainly for self-defence and protection of trade. The army is disciplined and well-trained, with a combination of traditional and more modern weaponry, but not too large. A large-ish reserve militia of citizens is kept to defend the country in case of invasion, but are not well trained or equipped. The navy is somewhat similar to a coast guard combined with a navy, and its principal task is protecting coastal trade and fishing.